Blå, Oslo on 26 May 2006
Reviewed by Andreas on 31st May 2006
I've never been to Blå (or Blue, if you want to actually understand the meaning of the word) before. Turns out it's down some alleys, past some broken-looking old buildings and a place where bike cabs - the type you see Chinese people ride around on and in when you go see films in the cinema - are being fixed. By the river, next to an old warehouse, Blå is situated in a delightfully arty setting. And the punters match this (read: students and bands). In short, it is quite beautiful - tall oak trees overhead, only gently overpriced pints and some nice conversation between me and a few others.
The doors open, and for a modest fee I am given a stamp and a stub (a moose stamp, at that. A moose stamp that refuses to wash off even). Seated in the modest venue, the ritualistic wait begins. I say venue, but I do mean what must have been a bomb shelter. The sound later turns out to be strangely good for a place where the natural reverb is more like being in a long concrete tunnel...
Final Fantasy, for the uninitiated, is a man called Owen Pallet. He's from Canada, he plays the violin, and a bit of piano as he remarks. However, Final Fantasy is all about the violin as seeing a piano concerto is "like watching someone tie their shoes onstage" as he remarks.
Now, his show is a bit of an experience. It's him, his violin, a loopbox and a vast imagination. There is no end to the amount of sounds he can squeeze out of one little violin. Like the percussion sounds that come out during "Song song song" - a "dungeons and dragons-y" number off his latest album, 'He poos Clouds'. Another example is the backwards-looped violin beatings in the glorious 'This is the dream of Win and Regine' during which people actually sing along to the line "Montreal might eat its young..." or similar.
A couple of songs in, a tiiiny woman named Steph comes on the tiiiny stage and fires up an overhead projector - you know, the acetate thing teachers use in under-privelieged schools. On this she creates one of the most elaborate (manual) slide shows known to man. Alongside the music it has a very encapsulating effect and actually creates more of a show. I suppose. Not that there is any real need for a massive show; Pallet's voice is absolutely glorious. With the violins and the odd lyrics and the fact that he takes his shoes off to play, there is very little fault to the evening.
"I'm in a foreign country", Pallet announces. Which is very true; he is Canadian, after all, and this is indeed Norway, "So, I can get away with this". The next thing you know, a magnificent cover of Bloc Party's 'This Modern Love' is streaming out of the loopbox and violin. I dread to say this, but I think Pallet might do a better job of it than the aforementioned band from London. Then again, violins make just about anything terribly decent as Final Fantasy's last song (in the second encore) is... "Fantasy" by Mariah Carey. As always with the slightly funny covers, the entire crowd is dancing and singing along. Strange that. I suppose the only thing that would have made it better would be if Pallet swooped down a pier on rollerblade ala Carey does in the video.
Remember kids, songs on the violin about Dungeons & Dragons accompanied by the best voice this side of Canada is always - always - a thing not to be missed.
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